Stevens Institute of Technology recently awarded master’s degrees in telecommunications management, photonics and microelectronics to Chinese students who completed 18 months of graduate study at Stevens’ partner school, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT).
This is the second such program executed by Stevens in partnership with BIT. Robert Ubell, dean of Stevens’ School of Professional Education, said 100 percent of graduates of Stevens’ first program in China are now employed as executives and technical experts at international and local companies, or they are engaged as doctoral candidates at Stevens.
In contrast, Ubell said, Chinese data reports only 60 percent of students who graduate from Chinese universities find jobs in careers that match their academic qualifications.
Ubell attributes this difference to “a big disconnect” between the educational system in China, industrial need and students’ marketability.
“In China, the tradition of education is very academic,” Ubell said. “What the Chinese do in their educational system is provide training for an academic career, to be a professor, to do research, etc. And so Chinese students, for the most part, are not getting the kind of education that would lead them into an industrial career, which is what they’re looking for.”
Through its partnership with BIT, Stevens is meeting this need, providing IT-industry-centric courses.
“There’s a big plus from the point of view of a Chinese student,” Ubell said. “They get the marketability, training and the education that they’re looking for to compete in a global world rather than a Chinese-oriented world.”
Part of this education involves taking care to develop students in a way that combines advanced technical knowledge with management skills.
Of particular interest — particularly in light of the ongoing globalization of the IT industry — is teaching virtual teaming, where a workforce can interact remotely within a global environment.
“That’s the way global corporations now operate because they may have engineers, managers and teams in different countries,” Ubell said. “So, it’s critical, whether you’re a Chinese or an American graduate, to be able to work collaboratively all over the world.”
He also feels it is just as critical for the United States to have a full understanding of China and its citizens.
“From the point of view of the U.S., it’s critical that American universities and industry learn as much as possible about how Chinese think, how they work, the way they are and what level of development they’re at, so we’re not just looking at them the way we did with other societies — with a blind ignorance of what’s going on elsewhere, outside the U.S.,” Ubell said.